Niall Fergusson reckons young people should be welcoming austerity measures because it means they won’t be paying for the largesse later in life and that greedy old people are indenturing us by way of paying for their bills
Young people should welcome austerity measures because it means huge government debts are less likely to blight their futures, historian Niall Ferguson has said.
The economic historian, who is affiliated to Oxford and Harvard Universities, says wise young voters should insist politicians pay off debts as soon as possible for the benefit and security of their own financial interests.
Speaking at the Reith Lectures on Tuesday, Professor Ferguson will argue the “young should welcome austerity,” adding they “find it quite hard to compute their own long-term economic interests.”
In his first lecture, which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, Prof Ferguson will insist the current public debt “allows the current generation of voters to live at the expense of those as yet too young to vote or as yet unborn.”
“It is surprisingly easy to win the support of young voters for policies that would ultimately make matters even worse for them, like maintaining defined benefit pensions for public employees,” he says in an article ahead of the lecture.
He adds: “If young Americans knew what was good for them, they would all be in the Tea Party.”
Professor Ferguson argues the true size of government debt in Western democracies is many times larger than “deeply misleading” figures issued in the form of bonds because they do not record unfunded liabilities of social security and health care schemes.
“The last corporation to publish financial statements this misleading was Enron,” he wrote.
“These mind-boggling numbers represent nothing less than a vast claim by the generation currently retired or about to retire on their children and grandchildren, who are obligated by current law to find the money in the future, by submitting either to substantial increases in taxation or to drastic cuts in other forms of public expenditure,” he said.